Oh, Colorado!

This year’s Colorado trip started the same way as last year’s.

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We flew into Denver International Airport (DIA), picked up our gear/luggage and hopped on the Colorado Mountain Express (CME).

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After the two hour shuttle ride, we arrived in Breckenridge and checked into Pine Ridge Condominiums. So, why do I like Pine Ridge? Well, mostly because of this…

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Riding down to your condo after a long day is HEAVEN.

Pine Ridge may not be “ski-out”, but the Snowflake Lift, which takes you to Peak 8 Base Area, is just up the street. You can either walk there, or if you’re lazy like us, you can wait for the bus at the bus stop right outside the complex.

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Besides the excellent location, Pine Ridge also has reasonable/budget-friendly rates and helpful staff. I was able to use their meeting room while waiting for the shuttle to pick us up and take us to Vail.

Anyway, once we settled in and unpacked, we took the bus (Gray Line) to City Market. Since I planned our meals before we left for Colorado, shopping for ingredients was a breeze. Carrying our groceries home, on the other hand… well, this is what saving money by not renting a car looks like…

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If you’re considering not renting a car and you need to go to the market, rolling duffel bags (or any kind of rolling luggage) are your best friends!

During our stay in Breck, we made:

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a. Chicken Enchiladas
b. Chipotle Turkey Chili
c. Rib-eye Steaks w/ Mini Cheddar Potato Skins

I made sure to pick tried and true recipes that were quick and delicious. The last thing I wanted to do after a long day of snowboarding was slave in the kitchen.

Last year, Henry and I suffered the symptoms of altitude sickness: headaches, nausea, light-headedness and shortness of breath. This time around, I was more prepared. I made sure to keep myself hydrated and didn’t experience one single symptom. As for Henry, he didn’t listen to me when I repeatedly told him to drink more water and guess what? He felt like shit the first night/second day. Doesn’t he know by now that I’m ALWAYS right? Damn!

Our first snowboarding day was spent at Keystone. It was not a very good day. The snow was a bit sticky, the runs were bumpy and they also closed the base gondola due to high winds. And we missed the bus back to Breck so we had to wait an hour and half for the next bus. And when we finally got home, I noticed that the knob on one of my BOA boots was missing and without it I had no way of tightening that boot. Good thing Josh at Mountain Wave was able to fix my boot in less than 2 minutes for only $10.

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After a lousy first day at Keystone, we hit up Breck and man, the snow was SO MUCH BETTER. We spent much of the first day around Peak 8. My favorite runs on the bottom half of Peak 8 were Spruce, High Anxiety and Rounders.

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During the next few days, we pretty much covered all of Breck. Surprisingly, my favorite area was Peak 10! I say surprisingly because last year, I hated Peak 10 because the runs were icy – we did one run and then headed back to Peak 8/9. This year, we went down almost every run on the front side of Peak 10 and they were all so fun and fast.

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I also liked the runs at Peak 7. They weren’t as challenging as Peak 10, but still fun nonetheless. My favorite run was Wirepatch.

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We usually don’t go out and explore the town during snowboarding trips, but since we didn’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day (it’s overrated anyway!), Henry and I went on a date on our last night in Breck.

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Downstairs At Eric’s was perfect for us because we were in the mood for pizza and I was able to catch the end of the Kings game. We ordered the sweet chili wings, “garbage” pizza and chicken fried steak.

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I really loved the chicken fried steak; it was so moist and tender! The crust of the pizza was interesting. When I ordered the garlic wheat crust, I really didn’t expect actual minced pieces of garlic in it – what a nice surprise since I LOVE GARLIC!

We passed up dessert at Downstairs at Eric’s because I wanted to see what else Breck had to offer. About 2 or 3 blocks down the street, we found this cute ass place: Crepes a la Cart. The smell was so damn intoxicating, I just had to order a dessert crepe. There were many choices, but I finally decided on the Turtle Sunday.

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SOOOOO DELISH! My only complaint was that they didn’t give us enough ice cream! But in retrospect, maybe this was a good thing since it was really cold outside.

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So, after 5 days in Breck, we left for Vail. We were really sad to leave, but we were also excited to check out Vail and see what all the hype was about.

To be continued….

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9,600 ft.

Even though Mammoth is always awesome, I’ve always wanted to go snowboarding outside of California (Nevada side of Tahoe doesn’t really count). So, when Southwest Airlines launched their $30, $60, $90 promotion last year, Henry and I jumped at the opportunity and booked a trip to Colorado instantly. Round trip ticket for $120? SCORE! After much deliberation, we decided to forgo the big pricey resorts like Aspen/Snowmass and Vail for Breckenridge. This decision was based partially on the outrageous cost of an SUV rental: $600. To save about $300, we used the Colorado Mountain Express (CME) shuttle service to get to and from Denver International Airport (DIA). This meant that we relied solely on public transportation while in Breckenridge, which was fine since Breck’s “Free Shuttle” system was easy enough to navigate and very efficient. However, when you have 10 bags of groceries and a 24 pack of water to carry, not having your car can be quite a hindrance. We made our grocery trip work by taking a rolling luggage with us!

We stayed at Pine Ridge Condominiums (#6B), located right on the Four O’Clock run. The condo itself was better than I expected – we had stainless steel cookware and a great knife. It really is the little things in life that matter! 😛 We had two options, book through Expedia or book directly through the condo website. The condo website provided a rating system from silver to platinum to help guests gauge the general condition of the condo. Compared to Expedia, the equivalent condo in price booked through the condo website would have been a “silver” – no renovations within the last 5 years. We weren’t thrilled with the few options that we had on the condo website so we decided to take our chances and book through Expedia, especially since it was actually slightly cheaper to do so. By booking through Expedia, the worse case scenario would have been getting the exact condo we expected, but at a cheaper price. Taking our chances paid off because we ended up in a condo that was considered “gold”, which would cost $300 more if we booked through the website!

Poor lighting, I know.

The town of Breckenridge sits at 9,600 ft. above sea level. At high altitudes, reduced air pressure and lower oxygen concentration decreases the amount of oxygen that enters your bloodstream which, for some people, causes the onset of altitude sickness. The day we arrived in Breckenridge, Henry was already experiencing a few telltale symptoms. I didn’t have any symptoms so I thought I was in the clear for the whole trip. Boy, was I wrong. I totally forgot that all the literature I read up about altitude sickness stated that symptoms were usually worse the 2nd day at higher altitude. And like clockwork, we woke up the next morning with pounding headaches and shortness of breath. Henry also had some nausea and light-headedness. We had planned to start our day early and head up to the mountain at 9:30am, but we didn’t get out of bed until 10am because we felt like shit. To save that day from being a complete waste, we decided to go to Keystone for their “twilight” boarding (2pm-close/8pm). Keystone/Arapahoe Basin is about a 20 min bus ride (take the Swan Mountain Flyer/black line) from Breckenridge. Even though only the front side of the mountain stays open for night boarding (starting from 4pm), the runs were great.. and long! I didn’t get bored from the green and blue runs as I had expected. It was actually perfect since I was able to challenge myself to go faster.

I love feeling like I’m the only one on the mountain!

A huge part of our trip, as with all snowboarding trips, was cooking our meals, which explains why we had 10 bags of groceries. We do this because: 1) we love to cook, 2) it saves money, 3) it’s much healthier than eating hamburgers/hotdogs on the mountain. Our favorite meals were the cheesesteaks that we made for lunch, parmesan crusted pork chops (Giada’s recipe) for dinner and the spaghetti bolognese (with arriabata sauce) that ended up being lunch AND dinner.. for me at least.

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Aside from the pounding headaches, our trip to Breck was fantastic. It snowed the whole time we were there, which some would consider a bad thing since that usually means low visibility. But to me, any snow is great.. I ain’t complaining! And its true, the snow in Colorado is different. The snow is really light and dry unlike the wetter snow in Southern California (due to the humidity). My only gripe about Breck is that there are 4 Peaks: Peak 7, 8, 9 and 10 and manuevering from peak to peak can be difficult at times. We tried to avoid that as much as possible by spending one day on Peaks 7 & 8 and another day on Peaks 9 & 10.  

I can’t wait to go back to Colorado and check out the other resorts, but I’m shooting for Utah next.